Google Ads Changes For 2023
Updated: Mar 25
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Google Ads has undergone numerous changes in the past two years, making it challenging to stay updated. As a digital advertising agency, staying current is essential, and we strive to adapt to the evolving industry, sparing our clients the stress. Since 2021, Google Ads has experienced various changes, including privacy concerns, new ad options, and loss of search query data. Our guide provides an overview of the most recent Google Ad changes and offers examples and resources to help you optimize your campaigns successfully.
Google dominates the Pay-Per-Click (PPC) category globally, owning the world's largest search engine and the second-largest search engine, YouTube. However, achieving great results through Google Ads requires skill, finesse, and constant tracking and data collection. Analyzing user behaviour data and regularly tracking your campaign's performance is crucial in identifying areas that require adjustments.
Google Analytics 4
Recent Google Ad changes revolve around first-party data, user privacy, and artificial intelligence/machine learning. For instance, Google announced the sunsetting of Universal Analytics in July 2023, replacing it with Google Analytics 4, a "privacy-first" approach to cross-channel data tracking. Powered by Google's AI machine learning, Google Analytics 4 offers predictive metrics such as purchase probability, revenue prediction, and churn probability to provide marketers with new insights to target highly segmented audiences.
Google Analytics 4 primary metrics are "events" triggered and tracked when users interact with your website or app, such as page views, button clicks, and form submissions. While some events are automatically collected, enhanced measure events require enabling the option through the Admin Page. However, tracking more advanced data requires adding code to track custom events.
Analytics Help provides two categories to track advanced data: Recommended Events and Custom Events. Recommended Events are pre-defined by Google, with names and parameters implemented by the user. You can find the full list of Recommended Events for all Google properties, online sales, and games on Google's website. On the other hand, Custom Events are named and implemented by the user, but it is crucial to check for duplicate data before creating them.
Engagement metrics help identify the pages and screens that attract the most visitors and trigger events. An engaged session lasts for at least 10 seconds, has at least one conversion event, or involves two page views. Businesses can optimize low-performing pages by analyzing engagement metrics to increase user engagement.
Direct integration with BigQuery was previously only available to Google Analytics 360, the enterprise tool version of GA. BigQuery is a fully-managed enterprise data warehouse that allows businesses to analyze big data and gain valuable insights with built-in machine learning functionalities. With GA4's integration with BigQuery, businesses can analyze and decipher their data effectively.
Unsampled data and reports, which were previously only available for Google Analytics 360, are now available for any business with a GA4 property. Google Analytics automatically samples reports based on the number of sessions collected. However, unsampled data and reports provide a more accurate representation of the data without sampling.
Extended segmentations allow businesses to create more targeted audience segments based on events. This enables businesses to hone in on user interactions without having to divide them by platform type or device. Whenever a new audience segment is created, it is automatically shared with the Google Ads account, making it easier to run campaigns with precision-targeted audiences.
Google Analytics 4 provides several benefits, such as a more holistic view of the customer lifecycle without relying on cross-channel attribution, bridging the gap between app and website data, and tracking user data with or without identifiers or cookies. GA4 also collects more granular and accurate information than Universal Analytics.
Google Analytics 4's AI-driven capabilities help predict audiences with a higher chance of converting. With new data attribution, businesses can evaluate the value of each ad click as they track customer interactions with paid ads. GA4 provides deeper insights into users and their journey, making it crucial to set up and start collecting historical data and tracking relevant metrics. For cross-channel ad strategies, GA4 is the only tool that provides a holistic view of traffic and performance in one place.
Responsive Search Ads
In June 2022, Google sunsetted Expanded Text Ads and introduced Responsive Search Ads as the default ad type for Search campaigns. With Responsive Search Ads, businesses can enter up to fifteen headlines and four descriptions, and Google will serve the right combination to the right audience. Advertisers can utilize Ad Strength, where Google's algorithm provides feedback on ad creative's effectiveness and suggests actions to improve performance. Responsive Search Ads deliver personalized ads at scale, making them a valuable replacement for expanded text ads.
On YouTube, Engaged-View Conversions (EVCs) measure the performance delivered by direct response video ads. EVCs occur when a user views a skippable, in-stream ad for at least 10 seconds and converts within the Engagement-View Conversion window. EVCs cater to video ads on Google and YouTube and provide a more accurate measure of video ad performance. Campaign types that track EVCs include app, display, and video campaigns.
The new attribution model provides brands with a better understanding of the value of their ads by offering insights into user engagement and navigation of target audiences' viewing habits and devices. This model provides a holistic overview of the customer journey and can be expected to generate more conversions.
Better Ads Standards
Google recently added a new policy to the Destination requirements policy, stating that all destination ad experiences must conform to the Coalition for Better Ads' "Better Ads Standards." This means that ads that are irrelevant, intrusive, or off-putting to consumers are more likely to be blocked. If an ad experience violates Google's new policy, advertisers will be notified, and their ads will be disapproved. This policy update improves webpage navigation and helps preserve brand safety. Google's Ad Experience Report can help identify ad experiences that violate this policy. This policy only applies if a website hosts external ads. If Google ads link to ad-free web pages, no changes are necessary.
Smart Bidding uses machine learning to optimize bids for conversions or conversion value in each auction. Google is changing the way Search campaigns are organized. Target CPA and Target ROAS bid strategies will be renamed Maximize Conversions with a target CPA and Maximize Conversion Value, respectively. Target CPA and Target ROAS can still be used as bid strategies but will be bundled with Maximize Conversions or Maximize Conversion Value. If the optional targets for CPA or ROAS are not set, the Maximize Conversions & Maximize Conversion Value strategies will behave the same. No action is needed for this update, and it only impacts Search campaigns. Other campaign types that use Smart Bidding technology will not be affected.
Google Shopping Ads have become an essential part of digital strategy. Fortunately, Google has improved their Shopping Ad offerings by allowing businesses to offer more information about their products and showcase why their brand should be the consumer's choice. New features that can be utilized include Product Attributes, which give shoppers more context, such as size, colour, and new vs. used. With Local inventory ad campaigns, you can highlight items available for curbside pickup. Annotations can also be used to communicate unique offerings with your products and help them stand out from the competition. Effective copywriting can be used to create a sense of urgency for holiday promos.
Strike 3: You're Out!
Google has added nine new policies to the three-strikes system that penalizes advertisers that don't follow their rules. The new policies include clickbait, misleading ad design, bail bond services, call directories or forwarding services, credit repair services, binary options, personal loans, compensated sexual acts, and mail-order brides. Orange Bear can help businesses avoid future strikes and ensure campaign success by reviewing their ads and ensuring they abide by the guidelines for every ad platform prior to launch.
New Ad Type: Things to Do
Google has introduced a new ad type called "Things to Do" that allows travel brands to bid for ad placements when users search for local attractions on Google Search. This type of campaign enables brands to showcase nearby activities, attractions, and tours to travellers who show interest in a destination. The results would show photos, pricing, company name, booking link, customer reviews, and map, among others. This new ad change option will help travel and tourism brands capture interest directly in the search engine result page. Orange Bear offers direct integration for clients who want to utilize this new ad type.
Attribution Modelling for Youtube & Display Ads
Since Apple's iOS 14 privacy update, advertisers have had a tougher time attributing specific ads and interactions on YouTube and Display campaigns. Google has now added attribution modelling to YouTube and Display ads, which can help advertisers better understand their target audience's customer journey. Attribution models allow advertisers to track each interaction and decide how important each step was to achieve the conversion. There are six types of attribution models that Google offers: Last Click, First Click, Linear, Position-Based, Time Decay, and Data-Driven.
Changes to YouTube Targeting
YouTube's content targeting feature, which allows advertisers to match ads to specific channels or videos, will be removed in 2023. This change may cause some issues for advertisers running placement, keyword, or topic targeting. Google has stated that advertisers have seen performance benefits when removing keyword and topic targeting. However, this means that advertisers will have fewer targeting options, which may result in their ads reaching a larger audience, but potentially spending more on less qualified users.
The guide provides insights into Google Ads updates for 2023 and how advertisers can adjust their strategies to stay ahead of the curve. As content targeting is set to be discontinued in 2023, it's essential to diversify across channels and types, including Connected TV, social, audio, and native ads. A potential advertising agency should have a deep understanding of your industry's competition and best practices. The agency should align with your goals and be invested in your success. Partnering with an advertising agency can take your ad results to the next level. As your ad partner, Orange Bear stays up to date on these changes and will make alternative recommendations for adjustments and budget allocation. They recommend trying out Performance Max ads to optimize ad performance while making the most out of your ad dollars. Diversifying your ad channels and types will keep your strategy agile and flexible. The guide encourages working on your organic strategy, including SEO and quality content, to complement your paid ads. By being active on social media and engaging with your audience, you can promote your brand's content through paid ads.
What is the impact of Google's updates on my current ad campaigns?
The impact of Google's updates on your current ad campaigns will depend on the specific changes and how your campaigns are set up. However, it is important to stay informed of these updates and make necessary adjustments to your campaigns to ensure optimal performance.
How can I ensure my ads comply with Google's policies?
To ensure your ads comply with Google's policies, it is important to familiarize yourself with their guidelines and regularly review and update your ads accordingly. Additionally, partnering with a reputable advertising agency can help ensure your ads meet Google's policies.
What are Performance Max ads, and how can they help my campaigns?
Performance Max ads are a type of ad that utilizes machine learning to automate audience targeting and ad delivery format based on your campaign goals. This can help optimize your campaigns for better performance and ROI.
What are some alternative ad channels to consider?
In addition to Google Ads, there are many other ad channels to consider, such as Connected TV, Social, Audio, and Native. It is important to diversify your ad channels to capture your audience at different touchpoints throughout their customer journey.
Should I focus on organic or paid advertising?
Both organic and paid advertising are important for a comprehensive marketing strategy. Organic efforts such as SEO and quality content can complement your paid ads and help increase your overall visibility and credibility.